Feb. 13, 2006
UC Riverside vs. UCLA - Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m., Brian Schroeder (0-0, 9.00) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (0-1, 21.60)
Get After It: The UCLA Bruins (2-4) host the UC Riverside Highlanders (4-3) for a non-conference matchup on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Last season, the Bruins handed the Highlanders a 17-0 pasting at JRS on Feb. 8.
Miami Series Recap: UCLA took on perennial baseball powerhouse Miami for a three-game set, and showed it can compete with one of the top programs in the nation. The Bruins dropped the first game 3-1 on Friday, but used a late-game rally to top the Hurricanes 7-4 on Saturday, before losing a tough 5-2 decision on Sunday.
About the Highlanders: The UC Riverside Highlanders enter Tuesday's game with a 4-3 overall record. The Highlanders are coming off a three-game series at home against the Arizona Wildcats, in which UCR suffered back-to-back losses (4-2, 11-5) after winning the first game of the series (8-5) over the Cats. Tuesday's contest will be the first of an 11-game road swing for UCR. As a team, the Highlanders hit .344 (86-250), with two home runs, 45 RBI, and 49 runs scored. UCR is led by sophomore catcher Jeff Dunbar who is 11-for-15 (.733) at the plate. Junior outfielder D.J. Hollingsworth leads the team with eight RBI and six stolen bases. A total of 10 Highlanders are currently hitting over .300 at the plate. On the mound, UCR owns a 4.14 team ERA, with 58 Ks in 63.0 innings pitched.
The UC Riverside-UCLA Series: Since the 1975 season, UCLA owns a 7-5 series advantage over the Highlanders. These two teams met twice last season with each team winning at home. The Bruins pounded UCR 17-0 at home on Feb. 8, but dropped a 3-2 decision at UC Riverside on May 24. The last time UCLA lost to UCR at Jackie Robinson Stadium was in 2003 (10-6).
Get Familiar: UCLA will see plenty of the Big West Conference over the next two weeks. Eight of the Bruins' next nine regular season games will be against teams from the Big West Conference. UCLA will take on UC Riverside, Pacific, Cal State Fullerton, and Long Beach State during that span. The Bruins will also face UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara later this season.
Training Wheels Off: In the first six games of the season, seven freshmen on the UCLA roster have made starts for the Bruins. Brandon Crawford and Ryan Babineau have started at shortstop and catcher respectively each of the first six games, and Tim Murphy (5, center field), Jermaine Curtis (2, third base), Blair Dunlap (2, left field), Eddie Murray (1, second base), and Cody Decker (1, designated hitter) have each cracked the starting lineup so far this season.
Middle Infield Production: Shortstop Brandon Crawford and senior second baseman Sean Smith are making quite the combination up the middle for UCLA. Combined, the duo is batting .375 (15-40) with two triples, two doubles, seven runs scored, five RBI, two stolen bases, and a .500 on-base percentage. In the dirt, the two own a combined fielding percentage of .981, converting 53 of a possible 54 chances up the middle.
Making the Plays: As a team, UCLA owns a .988 fielding percentage in the first six games, converting 239 of 242 chances in the field, a mark that is currently tops in the Pac-10 Conference.
Watch Your Step: UCLA has been very successful at picking runners off the base paths. The Bruins own four pickoffs this season, which is the top figure in the Pac-10 Conference. Junior Dave Huff has picked a team-leading two runners off at first base.
Adding Some POP: Six different Bruins have combined to hit seven home runs in the first six games, a vast improvement from 2005. Last year, the Bruins didn't record a home run until the ninth game of the season. UCLA's seven bombs on the year are tied for the best mark in the Pac-10 with USC and California.
Stepping Up: Freshman infielder Jermaine Curtis has made the most of opportunities in the starting rotation at third base. In two starts at the hot corner this past weekend, Curtis went 2-for-5 (.400) at the plate with a double, a run scored and a RBI, and a .500 on-base percentage.
Bring It: This season, UCLA isn't backing down from anyone which shows in the toughness of its schedule. The Bruins are set to play 32 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last season, with 11 teams listed in this year's preseason top-25 rankings.
UCLA will take on 12 teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last year (Miami, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, NC State, Ole Miss, UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Stanford, and Oregon State), and will have 18 games during the season against NCAA Super Regional participants (Miami, Cal State Fullerton, Ole Miss, Arizona State, USC, Oregon State).
The Bruins' tough schedule was noted with the No. 1 strength of schedule nod by Boyd's World, a baseball statistics internet site.
Up Next: The Bruins will travel to Stockton, Calif., for their first road trip of the season when they face the Pacific Tigers for a three-game series beginning Friday, Feb. 17.